It’s that time of year again! Alexandria Library celebrates All Alexandria Reads through May 9. The program, which began on April 1, is designed to create shared reading experiences through inviting all patrons and community members to read the same book. Companion books are also available for younger readers. This year’s featured title is Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman, a former art crime investigator who facilitated the return of priceless works of art as an FBI agent.
Wittman founded the the FBI’s National Art Crime Team and is currently a private security consultant. Priceless, his 2010 memoir, his travels around world to rescue paintings as well as his successes closer to home, such as uncovering an original copy of the Bill of Rights in the United States. One fascinating scene recounts the “nine painstaking months” over which Wittman convinces two French underground art dealers to trust him, and when they finally do, he apprehends them and seizes the stolen art they were trading, including a long-lost Vermeer painting from the 1990 Gardner Museum heist.
For younger readers who would also like to to read about art crime or museum heists, the library offers a selection of companion books for children, including Chasing Vermeer and Art Fraud Detective. There are similar lists for adults and teens interested in further exploring the topic.
Throughout April and early May, the library is hosting events that focus on art, artifacts, and crime scene investigations, including children’s storytimes and science programs, film screenings, live music, space exploration expert presentations, and book discussions. Examples include an Oceans Twelve viewing on May 2, and “Fakes and Forgeries,” a discussion with antiques expert Ken Farmer, on May 3.